[Met Performance] CID:139740
Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg {235} Chicago Opera House, Chicago, Illinois: 05/4/1945.

(Review)


Chicago, Illinois
May 4, 1945


DIE MEISTERSINGER VON NÜRNBERG {235}

Hans Sachs..............Herbert Janssen
Eva.....................Eleanor Steber
Walther von Stolzing....Charles Kullman
Magdalene...............Kerstin Thorborg
David...................John Garris
Beckmesser..............Gerhard Pechner
Pogner..................Emanuel List
Kothner.................Mack Harrell
Vogelgesang.............Anthony Marlowe
Nachtigall..............Hugh Thompson
Ortel...................Osie Hawkins
Zorn....................Richard Manning
Moser...................Lodovico Oliviero
Eisslinger..............Emery Darcy
Foltz...................Lorenzo Alvary
Schwarz.................John Gurney [Last performance]
Night Watchman..........Louis D'Angelo

Conductor...............Paul Breisach

Review of Claudia Cassidy in the Chicago Daily Tribune

Festival City Lives On in 'Meistersinger.' Tho Nuernberg is Casualty of War

Anyone who ever doubted that man's music was mightier than his mortar and stone might have made a revealing pilgrimage last night, had he wandered from the right newsreel into the Civic Opera house. For in the one the ancient festival city of Nurnberg law sprawled in ruins, and in the other its pasteboard counterpart came slowly to life to the familiar splendors of Wagner's music. Doubly ironic last night was the sleepy all's well of the night watchman, who doddered on the peaceful stage with the rising moon, quite unaware that he had just missed the biggest street fight of the century. From now on, only in 'Die Meistersinger" will all be well in Nuernberg.

This was our first "Meistersinger" in six seasons, and vastly welcome, tho no rival for the glorious performances that roistered thru those very settings about 15 seasons ago, when we had a German wing to rival Bayreuth itself. Voices seem to get smaller as orchestras get larger, and much of the brilliance is obscured, but the opera remains one of the glories of the repertory, and the performance had a good deal of authority and authenticity to make up for what it lacked in splendor.

The first thing you want to know about any "Meistersinger" cast is who sang Hans Sachs and how, because the role of the master cobbler of the kindly generosity and the lusty wit is one of the prizes in all theaterdom. Last night it was Herbert Janssen who got the plum, and his Sachs was jovial rather than jovian, tho really it should have been both. A big man with a pleasant tho not a memorable baritone, he was at his best hammering his shoes to plague Beckmesser's luckless serenade.

Mr. Pechner's Beckmesser was expertly in the carping tradition, a mean little man half vulture, half crow, and all gadfly. Mr. Kullman's Walther was a knightly fellow and melodious when you could hear him. Miss Steber was an exquisite Eva, with the qualities of youth and graciousness, that might, if we are lucky, ripen into something of the Lehmann tradition. Mr. List looked noble, but I had trouble hearing him, too. Mme. Thorborg is a deft character actress, but her Magdalene seemed to be taking a boy to raise in Mr. Garris' David, an apprentice who looked disconcertingly like Dennis King in operetta days.

The mastersingers were more than men in costume, with several outstanding characterizations, notably Mack Harrell's Kothner, which might have been a slightly more severe Franz Schubert. The staging was traditional, and Mr. Breisach who substituted for George Szell, did a good job with the orchestra, once he got past the hurdle of the overture. For the record, a horn player arrived late, as did many of the audience, and several people backstage wandered on by mistake and were pretty embarrassed, too.



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